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Lorenzetti, also called Pietro Laurati, is an Italian painter from Siena.
As it is the case with other great Sienese masters, we know little about
his life. Although a number of signed and dated paintings survived, the
chronology of his works is not clear.
His first dated work is an altarpiece from 1320 for Pieve di Santa Maria,
Arezzo. The dramatic frescos of the Passion in the left transept of the
Lower Church of Assisi are possibly somewhat earlier. These show that Pietro
attempted a synthesis of Duccio,
whose pupil he probably was, and Giotto,
whose work he must also have studied.
In his frescoes the artist started to place groups of people effectively
against three-dimensional backgrounds and developed this further during
the following decade. Even though his scenes tend to be austere and symmetrical
(unlike his brother Ambrogio’s pleasant narrative manner), Pietro always
included realistic details of clothing and objects. He was also able to
capture the way people look at each other. It was only toward the end of
his career that Pietro developed his considerable narrative powers, which
were delicately and tenderly expressed in one of his masterpieces, a triptych
dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin.
Pietro was probably Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s
elder brother, and the two sometimes collaborated. They probably both died
in the great plague of 1348, which carried off half the population of Siena.